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Developing Strong People Skills Key to Success

Educational institutions today are more advanced than ever before, with their myriad offerings centered around technology. It makes sense, given the many indisputable benefits we derive from it. In general, we can work better, faster and more efficiently than ever before. We can instantly connect with colleagues and customers around the world and hold virtual meetings simply by pressing a few buttons. Like you, I use a number of devices and apps every day and I’m grateful for the convenience they provide.

That said, there are some skills that talent will never replace. One of them is the ability to effectively interact with people.

How are your people skills?

Think about it. Much of our business success is predicated on the relationships we develop with others, whether superiors, subordinates, colleagues, customers, community members, vendors, and others. For this reason, it’s important to develop good people skills and practice using them every day.

From my experience, relationships and clear communication are everything. If you aspire to be an entrepreneur or a business leader, you’ll go much farther if you cultivate your people skills.

So, how do you develop your people skills? Well, it starts with respecting the individual. The oft-quoted Golden Rule tells us we should treat others as we would like to be treated. I often say that being a boss or having a title doesn’t make you a leader. If you’re leading others you have to earn their respect, and that begins with the respect you show them. Everyone brings different skills and personal qualities to work. Welcome everyone. Accept their differences. Praise publicly and criticize privately.

Outside the office, train yourself to genuinely like others. In conversation—for example, at a networking function, a meeting of a board on which you hold a seat or corporate retreat—unless you’re making a presentation or sales pitch, ask lots of questions and listen attentively. Let the other person talk.

Because our interactions with others in the work environment is often tied to selling, part of developing stronger people skills can also mean developing more effective persuasive skills. People who sell for a living generally tend to have excellent people skills because it’s such a relationship-based function. This is where enhancing your level of empathy can benefit you. This means developing the ability to see things from the other person’s point of view, which helps you to understand their needs and wants and, in turn, be in a much better position to be able to serve them.

I find that the more I learn about the world around me and what people are doing to make it a better or even more interesting place, the more I appreciate them. We now live in a global economy in which many of us interact daily with people from a variety of countries, cultures and backgrounds. That’s a very good thing because it can open us up to new people and experiences, making us better-rounded and in a better-position to cultivate relationships. And that can only help us move toward greater success.